Pros: Generally good level of acting and a nice selection of themes to get your teeth into.
Cons: Some of the one-scene plays were weaker than others.
Like most people I know, I’m not getting any younger. The other day I forgot my PIN number. I couldn’t believe it, it was so embarrassing. I say “my” PIN number, it was actually my gran’s. Thank god she’s got Alzheimer’s. And can’t read her bank statements.
My memory was thankfully not put to the test when recounting all seven productions in this evening of new writing, as they were all thankfully quite distinct from one another. A new writing evening is always a challenge to review evenly and I was worried I’d forget some of the plays so, for the first time as a reviewer, I took some notes:
Play 1: Getting Back to Me – Wife makes up marriage and baby to please dying mum.
Play 2: Filler – Post modern. Characters being deceived by playwright.
Play 3: Have You Seen Spiderman 2? – Sci-Fi guy wants to propose to girlfriend.
Play 4: The Chair – Murderous husband.
Play 5: Sleep of Reason – Hypnotist Greek guy.
Play 6: Holy Hell – Bad guy lies about killing woman’s kids.
Play 7: How to Improve Your Love Lie – Marriage counseling. Happy couple versus sad couple.
Yes, I got a bit vague in the middle, but what it shows here is the imagination of these new writers in creating a pretty diverse collection of plays around the theme of ‘deception’. Each piece had fairly solid punchy endings and well-defined characters. For someone interested in the structuring of plays and their writing process, this evening would have been well worth the entry fee. The new writing night entitled, Playground, is a regular event at The Horse and Stables, and is becoming a bit of a regular for Everything Theatre too, as we reviewed it back in April too.
It’s hard to analyze all seven in such a short space, so I’ll keep it fairly general. The 15-strong net cast was mainly made up of young actors, as befitted a modest theatre-pub production. But their youth certainly didn’t translate to lack of ability – some were better than others but, even in such brief vignettes, each character came across as believable and engaging. The set was wisely left very simple, meaning zero scene change faff in a show that lasted a very comfortable 90 minutes, give or take. Not only were the plays written by different writers, they also had different directors for the most part. This resulted in some (though not really enough) interesting stage directions. In particular, the ‘bad guy’ in Play 6 making a fearsome entry by walking down the gangway and sticking his face menacingly in many a poor timid theatregoer’s visage.
To sum up seven plays in one star rating is as hard as deciding which member of The Wanted to give the World’s Weirdest Looking Face Award to, but I felt the fragmented structure of the evening and some weaker pieces in the set meant it couldn’t warrant a higher score. Some of the one-scene plays definitely worked better than others, as is to be expected of a new writing night. That’s not to say that the evening didn’t deliver unique, funny and at times exciting theatre. All in all it was a night that will, I hope, live long in my memory.
Authors: Rhea MacCallum, Andrew Biss, Joseph Banks, James C. Ferguson, Craig Jordan Baker, Barbara Lindsay, Lou Trelevean
Directors: Josh Hinds, Daniel Jordan, Emily Bush, Margaret Cohen, Dan Horrigan, Phoebe Hitt
Producer: Ghost Dog Productions
Booking until: 23 July 2014
Box Office: Keep up to date with Ghost Dog Productions new writing evenings on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ghostdogproductions